the elderly

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    How do you commonly refer to 'old people' ? Any euphemisms ? (Please explain)

    In Dutch: we never say 'de ouden' but
    - 'bejaarden' (of years)
    - 'ouderen' (elderly, also with comparative)
    - oudjes' (diminutive)
    - 'op leeftijd' (of age - we even have to distinguish between leeftijd (age, life-time) and ouderdom (old age, 'oldness')
    - 'senioren' (hiding age by using Latin...)

    I believe 'die Alten' can be used in German, but I am not so sure...

    Your list might be endless, but any are welcome.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  2. enoo Senior Member

    French - France
    In France,
    - une personne âgée - an old person (aged person), maybe the most common word
    - un sénior - same as above, and same as "senioren" I guess
    - un vieillard/une vieillarde (m./f.) - an old man (lit. an 'oldy/older' ?)
    - un vieux/une vieille - an 'old' (m./f.) - collocial and a bit pejorative
    - un ancien (m.) - an old man
    - le troisième âge - the 3rd age, that is, around 65 and older - often used in "formal" context.
    - le quatrième âge" - the 4rd age, for persons over 90. (This is an approximation, I don't think there's an official definition of this anywhere)
    - mes vieux - my 'olds', my parents, colloquial but not so pejorative. (of course the possessive part can be changed)

    Sometimes, grand-mère/grand-père (grand-mother/grand-father) or mémé/mamie / pépé/papy (granny / grandpa) in a colloquial and perjorative way. (e.g. at a traffic light, the light is green and the car ahead don't move, the driver is likely to be called that way)
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:
    -Elderly-->Ηλικιωμένοι (ilicio'meni, m. pl.), lit. "of age"; the most common word
    -Old man/woman-->γέρος ('ʝeros, m.; from the ancient Greek γέρων-'ʝĕrōn, m., "the old man"), γριά (ɣri'a, f.; from the ancient Greek γραία-'ɣraiă, f., "the old woman")
    -3rd age-->Τρίτη ηλικία ('triti ili'cia, lit. 3rd age); άνθρωποι της τρίτης ηλικίας ('anθropi tis 'tritis ili'cias)-->people of 3rd age
    -My olds (my parents)--> οι γέροι μου (i 'ʝeri mu, m. pl); ο γέρος μου (o 'ʝeros mu, m.)-->my old man (my father); η γριά μου (i ɣri'a mu, f.)-->my old woman (my mother). Very colloquial speech.

    Like in French, sometimes we refer to old people (over 70) unknown to us, as «γιαγιά» (ʝa'ʝa, f.-->grand ma) or «παππούς» (pa'pus, m.-->grand pa). Although it is considered very colloquial speech (or rude) it is not pejorative.

    [ɣ] is a voiced velar fricative
    [c] is a voiceless palatal plosive
    [ʝ] is a voiced palatal fricative
    [θ] is a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative
  4. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    @enoo: veillard/ vieux, vieille - Interesting observation how the ending can change a lot. Could veillard also imply something like getting older (based on veillir), which might then imply that is not just a fact but an evolution (which is euphemistic of course)?
    @Apmoy: is 'ʝĕrōn just descriptive, and does it not carry any connotation? Can it in any way be considered a euphemism ?

    I did forget about derde en vierde leeftijd (3rd/ 4th age), which is a perfect euphemism. Interestingly some people have felt the urge to introduce the 'fourth age', in my view because being called 'third age' was no longer euphemistic enough. I admit that people getting older has contributed to that, but still, I think the euphemism no longer appeared euphemistic enough to some people.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  5. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    I can figure up only two common expressions: vanhukset (old ones) and seniorit (seniors). The latter is used, for example, in train tickets as a discount price category.

    In her column, published in Helsingin Sanomat on 28.12.1999, Taru Kolehmainen talks about the means of covering one's old age. She mentiones the euphemisms ikäihminen (age person), kolmas ikä (third age), seniori, veteraani (veteran), kultainen ikä (golden age), ikinuori (everyoung), varttunut (upgrown), kypsään ikään ehtinyt (the one who has reached a mature age) and harmaa pantteri (grey panther). I think she has made up the last one. :) I haven't heard of kolmas ikä and harmaa pantteri.

    Source: (you can try it with Google translate)
  6. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    How interesting. Funny though that the euphemisms seem uncommon to you. You do mean that you do not hear the euphemisms very often (and some even never), don't you? (This is one of the most important aspects of this thread to me, that is why...)
  7. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    'ʝeros (and not 'ʝĕrōn; the latter sounds too archaic, although it can be used in written formal speech) is just a descriptive noun without any further connotation.

    'ʝĕrōn is cognate with other IE languages: Ossetic-->zārond, Ancient Hindi-->járant

    PS: Now that I read your post and sakvaka's about euphemisms, I just remembered a TV cliché phrase when referring to the elderly:
    «οι απόμαχοι της ζωής»
    i a'pomaçi tis zo'is (m. pl.)
    lit. "the veterans of life"

    [ç] is a voiceless palatal fricative
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I think I'll dream about becoming a grey panther (the grey is on the way already), a veteran of life, a member of the golden age (is there hope for my hair to turn golden?), etc. ?
  9. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    There are 2 words for old in Hungarian, the word öreg is use for things (öreg autó = old car) and usually pejoratively for people too (öreg ember = old man), and the word idős which is used only for people and it is not pejorative. So elderly is öregek (not recommended) or idősek [come from the word idő = time].
  10. Maroseika Moderator

    Apart from just 'old' (старый) in Russian we use пожилой - lit. smth. like 'the one having lived'.
    Another (bookish or bureaucratic) word is престарелый - the word of the same stem as just 'old' but more soft.
  11. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Actually I do hear them, but when I first wrote my post, the word vanhus just kept on staying in my head. :) People of my age (you understand what I'm talking about) just call them with that word. We don't start looking for euphemisms. I do understand it's not very polite: Hey, old man, whadda you doing?, but probably my language changes after I've got some thirty years more and dropped the most of my hair. Then I'll surely want to be called everyoung. ;)
  12. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I liked this!
  13. enoo Senior Member

    French - France
    Well, no, "vieillard" is just a way of saying "someone that is old", no evolution in the 'state of oldness'. My word "oldy" was an attempt at finding a litteral translation.
    It seems that the -ard suffix can be used in different ways. I knew mostly of the "make something pejorative" one (an example that works in English too: soûl/drunk - soûlard/drunkard) but it seems it can be used just to create nouns out of adjectives/other nouns, without pejorative meaning.

    On the other hand, vieux/vieilles have a neutral meaning when used as adjectives, but are a little bit pejorative when used as nouns ("Une vieille femme" - an old woman, neutral. "Une vieille" - same but less neutral. Oh... and "Une petite vieille" - a small old woman, this one is not pejorative. Go figure...)
  14. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Sorry about my mistake. I just thought it made sense, etymologically, not in the present meaning. But indeed, soûlard is a good example proving the opposite. Too bad it did not work out ! ;-)
  15. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    In English: you can talk about "seniors", "senior citizen", "elders", "the elderly". I personally like the expression "the golden years". Other eufemisms "to be 80 years young" sounds funny.
    Old, old folks, old age doesn't sound very nice anymore

    In Spanish: ser una persona "mayor", "muy mayor" [(very) grown up]. Also, "la tercera edad" (the 3rd age) like in French
    Negative. Anciano/a/os/as
  16. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog: matatanda or "Mga Gurang"
  17. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    So far I have learnt there are three languages using two different words for the adjective old (Hungarian, Portuguese and Romanian). The first one is used for things and the second one for people. So, to answer your question I have to add, Portuguese say: os idosos and Romanians: bătrâni [from L: veteranus].
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    What do the Tagalog words mean exactly, please? And 'idosos'?
  19. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    os idosos means "the elderly"....
  20. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Yes, literally from "idade" (age), so "the aged".
  21. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    The word "Matatanda" means old age/aged people.The root word is "Tanda" ( mark/ symbol of many years). The word "Gurang" is an old term for "old" (antiquity).It is related to word "Guru" of Devanagari (Guro' in Tagalog meaning teacher) . The number of years are proofs of many experiences in life and this may help others to learn from their past experiences in their life.Note: It is informal to use the term "gurang" to most Filipinos. Matatanda is more accepted.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, that makes it clear. So no euphemisms at all, just the truth, 'straightforward'... ;-) I am just surprised there are not more common euphemisms !
  23. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    If you want more expressions, in Hungarian you can say: idős, idősödő, öregedő, korosodó, éltes, szépkorú [I like that, szép "beuatiful" + korú "aged"], meglett korú, hajlott korú, etc..
  24. aruniyan Senior Member

    Words for elderly in Tamil -

    (elderly) - Matured
    VayathaaNOr(aged) - Became aged
    Kilavan/Kilavi(Old man/Old woman) - I think, Without leaving the place.
    PeriyOr - Big people

Share This Page